Sangiovese Grosso, Sangiovese Piccolo, Sangioveto ….. is to name just a few of
the aliases for this grape and closely related cultivars; providing the core body
for most Tuscan, blended red wine recipes; still reigning as the most consumed
Italian wines–at home and abroad. Dark-blue-skinned Sangiovese takes its name
from the Latin term Sanguis Jovis (‘blood of Jove’); an exalted reference to both
the elixir’s colour and an esteemed place in Europe’s pantheon of great grape
species: Vitis Vinifera. It’s also the most widely cultivated variety in central Italy,
with prolific vineyards in Lazio, Umbria, Marche and Tuscany combining for 95%
of worldwide plantings–a largely unrivalled dominance of a major grape, sourced
from a single country. Over several hundred years, generations of growers have
steadily built up expertise with ‘San-joh-vay-say’; stewarding these slow ripening
fruit clusters through to balanced maturity is something Tuscans have diligently
become very, very good at!
In the viticultural history of many long-lived old world wine regions, development
of a distinctive wine style that becomes immensely popular, aided by prodigious
yields of grapes that are well-suited to the terroir, adds up to a mixed record of
glory times and a fair share of winemaking folly. The sometimes over-voluminous
output of Tuscany’s Chianti is no exception to the latter. Happily, the decades in
the mid-20th century during which large commercial producers were marketing
far too much unremarkable bulk wine dressed in attractive round-bottom flasks,
swaddled with woven raffia called Fiasco–are long gone. In its 21st century place,
aptly, a renaissance of a different sort is taking place in the baseline of Italianate
winemaking. This time, Tuscany is focused on artfully advancing the competitive
quality across all its grades; from everyday offerings such as charmingly simple
Chianti thru to premium production of Brunello or Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
Too bad about the general demise of the raffia wrapping, it was so rustically and
warmly emblematic of Italy for such a long time!
Among the undulating landscape to the south-west of Florence, the vineyards of
Fattoria Di Piazzano roll down and outward from the tree-ringed hilltop estate:
first established by debutante vintner Otello Bettarini in 1948, then overseen by
nephew Riccardo for a time, and now with another quarter-century of hands-on
experience and investment, the fattoria (farm) under guidance by Rolando, Ilaria
and Michela endures as a Bettarini family affair. This week’s DéClassé featured
bottle of Piazzano Chianti 2013 is evidently one of their entry-level wines from a
very limited release. Nonetheless, this is a delightful, lighter-bodied and youthful
Chianti, displaying an integrated character of savoury earth and still-vibrant fruit.
Generally, exercising restraint in the finishing process of wine displays modern
winemaking wisdom. Here, the straightforward recipe of 80% Sangiovese–likely
from young vine stock–is rounded by a healthy splash of Colorino and Canaiolo.
Exposure to wild yeast and aged briefly in vitrified concrete vats and bottle only,
results in an unfettered, honest and refreshing wine, pleasingly devoid of oak.
Add a $14.95 price-point and you have a winner that will sell quickly. I would buy
many, to fill empty slots in your loose-raffia-lined storage boxes, as the success
of this trial offering will probably prompt a price increase for the next vintage!
PIAZZANO CHIANTI 2013
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #393199 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 14.95
Sugar Content Descriptor: D
Made in Tuscany, Italy
By: Societa Agricola Fattoria Di Piazzano
Release Date: October 31, 2015
This appealingly nimble young wine has a surprising range of the savoury thru to
cherry-driven flavours and aroma expected of Sangiovese. Try serving this with
antipasti, Pappardelle noodles and mushrooms or sausage-stuffed roast pork.